Chechen leader praises Putin’s bill protecting holy books from extremism probes

Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov © Alexei Druzhinin
Ramzan Kadyrov has called the proposed ban on probing holy books of major world religions for extremism “a historical step” aimed at consolidation of all Russian citizens and blasted unnamed “fifth column” for attempts to sow religious strife in the country.

“I am firm in my belief that such decision can only be made by the leader of the whole nation who shows equal care about believers in all religions and who enjoys steady support of the whole multi-ethnic people of the Russian Federation,” the head of the Chechen Republic wrote in his Instagram account.

He added that Vladimir Putin’s legislative move was a proof of the fact that any attempts of western nations and the “fifth column” inside Russia to ignite an inter-ethnic conflict in Russia are doomed to fail. He also pledged his full and unquestionable loyalty to Putin as well as confidence that it was shared by all Russian citizens.

In the end Kadyrov advised the judge and prosecutor from the Far Eastern city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, whose August decisions had prompted the Russian President to draft the amendments to the anti-extremism bill, to acknowledge their mistake and apologize before the Russian Muslim community.

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Representatives of all major Russian religions also welcomed the presidential bill on Thursday. The Central Spiritual Directorate of Russian Muslims called it “the greatest step,” the Federation of Jewish Communities said that it was “a move aimed at countering the theater of absurd,” senior Buddhist hierarchs said that it was “a very right thing” and the Russian Orthodox Church said that the bill was needed and timely.

Kadyrov’s comments came soon after Russian news agencies reported that President Vladimir Putin submitted to the State Duma a set of amendments to the 2002 Law on Countering Terrorism that order all holy books and sacred texts of Russia’s four established religions be exempt from any probes for extremism.

Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism are an inseparable part of the historic legacy of the peoples who inhabit Russia. Thus the Bible, Koran, Tanakh, and Kangyur, their contents and their quotes cannot be classed as extremist materials,” reads the explanatory note attached to the bill.

A similar bill was drafted to the State Duma about one month ago by MP Shamsail Saraliev who represents United Russia party and the Chechen Republic.

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Both drafts were prompted by the court ruling that took place in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in August. Back then the court recognized as extremist the ‘Prayer: its meaning and place in Islam’ book as a whole and in particular several surahs of abstracts from Koran. The decision attracted a lot of media and public attention all over Russia and almost immediately drew extremely negative comments from believers. Ramzan Kadyrov not only publicly protested against the decision but also submitted a legal appeal against it.

On Thursday State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin said on Thursday that the bill submitted by the president would be processed by the Lower House in the extraordinary mode.